The Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa saw quite an upset on the main 100K race as local runner Quang Tran had the better of current Asia Trail Master champion Manolito Divina. In the women's, Kim Matthews delivered on her role as favourite to take her third ATM race victory of the season.
After finishing second in the Vietnam Jungle Marathon last May, Quang Tran had only one focus in the last months and that was to prepare himself for the Sapa race. While everyone was pointing to Cao Ngoc Ha as Vietnam's best bet to compete against the pinoy tandem of Divina and Arnold Lozano, Quang Tran was at the front early on. Manolito Divina was able to resist for a long time, but eventually had to admit the Vietnamese runner was simply too fast last weekend. In the end, the gap at the finish had even built up to 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is impressive. Finish time: 13 hours and 17 minutes. Cao Ngoc Ha completed the podium in third place another full hour back. It illustrates the dominance displayed by Quang Tran. SIngapore's Chua Ying Zhi came very close to the podium in fourth place only a few minutes behind Cao Ngoc Ha. Arnold Lozano - winner of this year's Cordillera Mountain Ultra - came home in fifth place.
While Quang Tran collects 500 ATM championship points and now totals 950 in two races, Manolito Divina moves up into the ranking's top 10 with this third points score of the season. Cao Ngoc Ha improves to 4th place, equalling the total score of Isaac Yuen Wan Ho, who will be in action next at the Mesastila Peaks Challenge. Steven Ong still heads the championship ranking.
Kim Matthews was not really under pressure last weekend and ran a solid 17 hours 52 to claim the victory. The Australian, who recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City, is becoming a real challenger now for the Asia Trail Master women's title. Her VMM victory propels her to second place in the ranking with four races, just five points behind Ruth Theresia but also 20 ahead of Tahira Najmunisaa! Lily Suryani continues to lead the championship ranking with five results in the bank. In fact, after completing the tough Bandung Ultra 100 last week, the Indonesian finished sixth on the 100K of VMM as well! However, her points total does not increase further as VMM was her sixth race and only the best five results count. Lily needs to do better than 4th place in a regular trail race, as that was her placing in both Tahura Trail and Merapoh Trail.
On the podium beside Matthews was Hoa Banh, running with Australian nationality as well, and Nguyen Thi Duong from Vietnam, who will move up to the top 20 of the championship ranking with her third result of the season.
There was also a 70K in Sapa, and that race was won by Britain's Graham Knight ahead of Hanoi's Quang Nguyen after a good battle. In the women's France's Nadia Koucha took a strong victory ahead of Malaysia's Penang Eco 100 winner Christine Loh.